Warm and beguiling Love in Paul Rudd#039;s newest comedy

by Beacon Staff • March 18, 2009

Actor Jason Segel is averse to simply labeling his new film iI Love You, Man/i as a "bromantic comedy," a phrase that has been thrown around in the press recently, especially to describe this movie.

Segel (iForgetting Sarah Marshall/i, TV's iHow I Met Your Mother/i) sat down for a round-table interview with Emerson and a few other colleges, along with co-star Paul Rudd (iKnocked Up/i, iThe 40 Year-Old Virgin/i) and director and co-writer John Hamburg (iAlong Came Polly/i), to discuss their latest project. Segel said the movie cannot be pigeonholed with a trendy "cultural catchphrase," as he calls it. "It's a movie about real people and real relationships," he said.

Rudd pokes fun at this, saying he coined the term "dick flick" as a more fitting description of his film's take on male bonding. If iI Love You, Man/i were a tasteless, pornographic romp, then maybe such language would be appropriate.

Luckily, the film is anything but cheap. It draws the majority of its humor from the characters and their circumstances, as opposed to the random slapstick and pop culture references that plague many studio comedies, making it more relatable and truthful than many pictures manage to be.

Paul Rudd stars as Peter Klaven, a shy real estate agent who has always been comfortable and content with having a serious girlfriend dominate his social life, resulting in literally no close male friends.

After proposing to Zooey (Rashida Jones from TV's iThe Office/i), he is faced with the fact that he has no best man for his wedding. Although Peter has a brother (Andy Samberg), Zooey wants him to go out on his own and make some real friends.

After a series of unsuccessful "man-dates," Peter randomly meets Sydney Fife (Segel) lingering at one of his open-houses, taking advantage of the free food and social opportunities.

The biggest pleasure of iI Love You, Man/i is watching these two very funny men enjoy each other's company almost as much as they do in real life. Director and co-writer John Hamburg said, "[Segel and Rudd] were the only two guys we ever talked about for this movie." When asked about working with the talented duo, Hamburg said that the three of them had a rhythm between them, like "musicians riffing" off of each other.

Similarly, Rudd had nothing but confidence in Hamburg, saying "[iI Love You, Man/i] was honestly one of the funniest scripts I'd ever read." Segel said he felt the same way. "There wasn't much improvisation, the script was so tightly honed that there wasn't a need for it."

What works so well about iI Love You, Man/i is the amiable nature of its characters. They are familiar without being clicheacute;, charming but not glamorized. Peter and Sydney make a great team because, while they are opposite in many ways, they don't fall prey to buddy comedy convention by being so wackily different that a true friendship seems implausible. They like each other right off the bat, which tends to be how most friendships begin in reality.

iI Love You, Man/i thankfully never delves into gooey sentimentality, but it nevertheless winds up being quietly touching. It's refreshing that a comedy geared towards male audiences doesn't shy away from having a big, warm heart at its center.